Intercessory prayer. Oswald Chambers says it is “putting yourself in God’s place; it is having His mind and His perspective” on the matter. The value of our praying in this way is what I call Partnership in the Divine. God is working in the earth, and you and I are His vessels. “John Wesley so believed God’s plan was to work on Earth through people that he contended, ‘God does nothing on the earth save in answer to believing prayer.'” Heaven holds the reality of the power of our prayers. In fact, heaven holds the record and the results. Revelation 8:3-4 speaks of the collection of the saints’ prayers and the ministry of those prayers to God: “Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all the saints, on the golden altar before the throne. The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of the saints, went up before God from the angel’s hand.” Can you imagine the sheer celebration we will experience upon realizing that we prayed something on the earth and then witness the reality of the answer in heaven?
The nature of Christ within you as His disciple manifests in a multi-faceted likeness to Himself. As Christ interceded in prayer for you while on His knees in Gethsemane, He continues today to intercede on your behalf; and you, also, are an intercessor.
We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express (Romans 8:26).
What things specifically did Jesus pray in the garden the night before His crucifixion?
- that the Father glorifies Him in His presence with the glory Jesus had with Him before the world began (See John 17:5).
- that the Father protects the disciples from the evil one by the power of His name, so that they may be one as Jesus and the Father are one (See John 17:11)..
- that the Father sanctify the disciples by the truth (See John 17:17).
- that those who believe the disciples’ message may all be one, just as Jesus and the Father are one, so that the world knows God sent Jesus and loved the world even as God has loved Him (See John 17:21).
- that all of those given to Jesus may be with Him and see His glory (See John 17:24).
Jesus’ intercession in that dark hour revealed those things most important to Him: revelation of Himself; protection of the believers; their ongoing spiritual maturity; unity of the brethren with God and Jesus and with one another; and our arrival into heaven.
Let’s look at the first-century Church: what prayer focus did they have?
- Acts 12:1-5,12- The believers prayed for Peter who was imprisoned and awaiting execution by Herod, and he was miraculously delivered from the jail cell.
- Paul emphasized that through the believers’ prayers, he would be delivered. He was confident that all he suffered as a prisoner would bring glory to Jesus Christ, whether by Paul’s life or death (See Philippians 1:19-20).
- Paul prayed for the Philippians (in all my prayers for all of you…) that their love would abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that they would be able to discern what is best and would be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Christ Himself (sanctification).
- Paul taught the believers in Ephesus how to pray: “in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints” (Eph. 6:18). Paul emphasized prayer without ceasing in his letters.
- He went on to request their prayers for him- that he may “fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel” (Eph. 6:19-20). His need of believers to pray for him to courageously make known the gospel was a repeated request.
- Paul and Timothy prayed for the believers in Colosse that they would continue the process of spiritual maturation and would live lives that bring glory to Christ (See Colossians 1:9-12).
- Paul wrote to Timothy explaining that “requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone- for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:1-4).
What words would you use to summarize the focus of the believers’ prayers according to the scriptures above? In what way do you see the priority of the kingdom of heaven in these prayer directives? Do you see the same in your prayers?
Prayers for salvation should be the believers’ top priority, for it is God’s will that none should perish, but that all receive everlasting life in Christ Jesus. Pastor Jim Rodriguez shares the following scriptures to guide us in our intercession for others to receive the gift of salvation:
- Ask God to open their spiritual eyes (2 Cor. 4:4).
- Ask God to give them ears to hear (Matt. 13:15).
- Ask God to give them faith to believe (Acts 20:21).
- Ask God to give them the will to respond (Rom. 10:9).
- Ask God to send people into their lives to witness to them (Matt. 9:38).
- Ask God for opportunities and boldness to witness (Col. 4:3).
- Ask God for an opportunity to invite them (Luke 14:23).
- Ask God to set them free from spiritual captivity (2 Tim. 2:25-26).
- Ask for God’s love to be understood and embraced (1 John 3:16).
- Ask that they will have sorrow over their sin (2 Cor. 7:10).
Dutch Sheets, author of “The Beginner’s Guide to Intercessory Prayer,” writes, “Jesus said prayer would cause heaven and Earth to meet and, consistent with this, the Hebrew word for ‘intercession,’ paga, actually means ‘a meeting’ or ‘to meet with.’ The word isn’t always used in the context of prayer- any meeting can be a paga- but where prayer is concerned, heaven and Earth meet when we paga (intercede). Destinies are released, glorious horizons are revealed, and the Son shines through.”
One interesting meaning of paga is to hit the mark. In fact, the word is used to mean target practice in the Israeli armed forces. In our intercession, we are meeting with God to discern His mind and His perspective on a matter, which we liken to spiritual target shooting.
I’m taking this teaching to heart and heading into a time of prayer. There are targets to hit and my prayers of faith are the vehicle. I’m following the lead of my Lord and the first-century church and lifting up the believers and the pre-believers. We need unity, courage and protection, and they need revelation of Jesus Christ the Lord.
Sheets, Dutch. The Beginner’s Guide to Intercessory Prayer. Regal, Ventura California. 2001.
Receiving from my good Father today the freedom to come into His presence and to be aware of His pleasure.
My pressing into God’s presence is not dependent upon location, circumstances, time, others… truly I am the only one with the power to limit my coming to God with unadulterated worship that overflows with thanksgiving.
This I must get right – I was created for worship, and because God revealed Himself to me- I get to worship Him. I have received the One my heart desires!
In the position of presenting myself before the Father, I know that I am where I need to be, and all the issues of life flow out of my healthy heart that continually finds love, acceptance, peace, joy, strength, passion and purpose.
I spent the day with dear friends last Friday sharing the Word of God and learning more about the recent launch of Chaverah Magazine. Founding Editor, Dr. Debbie Harper, uses her gift of bringing women together for the benefit of mutual encouragement and giving glory and praise to God the Father for all He is and all He does.
Every time I’m with Debbie, I get a morsel to chew on- she is that kind of mentor! She challenged me last week to have a vision now for what Sharing Love and Truth ministry will be when I have departed the earth. “Do you have a ‘hand-off’ strategy?” she asked. That is a savvy business mindset to be thinking now about those who will follow after you, and very few leaders implement it, she said.
I have a mission for my life that far outlives my temporal time on the earth, but I honestly had not given any thought to how that applies to the practical planning of the ministry. It really took me to the core question, do I see the value of the ministry I lead?
Such a deep question landed me on a walk in the woods this morning! Do you know what I mean? It is as though you are called outside where the expanse of God’s creation invites the mind to dream big! Today my walk revealed to me the renewed sense of rhythm. Life is a rhythm, and the best rhythm to be in the midst of is the flow of the Holy Spirit. It is through abiding that we find the rest God offers His children. The wind causing the tree branches to gracefully rise and fall spoke beautiful rhythm to me while I walked. The wave-like flight pattern of a yellow finch declared rhythm… Passing by my husband’s family home caused me to reflect on the cycle of life because now a new family lives there, raising children and carrying on daily without any knowledge of the Beamers who built the home, watched four children grow up, played with grandchildren, loved well, threw parties, laughed, grew old, and departed from this earth. Life is a rhythm.
In an effort to understand my value of the ministry, I had to ask God again for the vision. First comes vision. If I have heard from heaven, then I can run with the revelation given me.
“…Run with perseverance the race marked out for us…” (Hebrews 12:1).
This was a necessary question because I have sensed a shift in recent years, and it causes me to fine tune my speciality and my services, so that I am better able to reach my audience. So I came up with the following flow chart:
VISION leads to VALUE leads to INVESTMENT.
The most exciting thing is seeing the flow chart actually form a circle! It begins with God as the Holy Spirit imparts vision, it flows through my life as I run in faith and exhaust all the heavenly resources entrusted to me as I invest well in the lives of His daughters, and they, in turn, live increasingly abandoned to Jesus with Spirit-infused worshipful lives that unceasingly bring praise to the good Father in heaven.
In the short time this morning that I focused on Debbie’s challenge to me, walked, prayed and reflected, I would say that God supernaturally delivered! This overall season of change indeed produces a greater sense of clarity, and I believe that I am tracking well. At least that is what another mentor says of my process of seeking clear definition of the mission! She also plays a vital role in what will be produced in the coming months, but first I must capture the vision and have a true sense of value.
I’m curious- when you find yourself in a season of redefining mission, how do you process? Do the questions I pose and the process I’m working through resonate with you? Do you work solo through it or in community? I’d love to hear from you!
Sharing Love and Truth readers, thank you for being on this journey with me! I pray that we continue to move closer and closer to the Father’s heart and to one another.
I left a piece of my heart on the FundEasy page, and I’d love for you to read my update entitled, “To Save a Life,” that explains why I’m Walking 4 Life and raising funds through sponsorships of my walk. I have a big goal, but I serve a big God!
Faith apart from the Holy Spirit’s empowerment is wishful thinking. How often do we profess belief in God, but we rely more on the judgment of man? Think on it this way: when the disciples faced the fear of dying at sea and awakened Jesus, did they all consult a meteorologist to determine if they would come through the storm alive? No. Jesus abided in God’s Presence (see John 1:33), and the peace of God within Him commanded peace over the storm.
The same is true for every believer. We begin our journey of victory over the storms in life by drawing from within. The Spirit lives in us; we have “the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19).
And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever- the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you know Him, for He lives with you and will be in you (John 14: 16-17).
If these truths do not yet resonate within you, and you have believed upon Jesus as your Savior and live in obedience to Him, then perhaps your faith is being tested for the purpose of its maturation. As you look upon the mountains looming before you, you may feel a sense of hopelessness and a physical weakness.
There is one prescription: Dig into the Word of God and feed truth to the Spirit of truth within. Give Him something to agree with, and you will experience the empowerment of your faith. God’s Word comes alive to us in a hungry state for truth, and we delight more in it than temporal sustenance.
Personal testimony: In exercising my faith, my initial response to a personal dilemma is to consult the Holy Spirit who is always with me. Jesus said His name is Counselor, so with the understanding that He has no limitation due to His eternal nature, I always seek understanding through Him. He is all-knowing, and He is with me. If and when additional steps require a consultation with man, my expectation is for man to confirm what the Holy Counselor has already spoken to me.
You may be wondering if I have ever missed His direction? I have. One instance stands out in which I thought I heard the Spirit indicate that I would still make a speaking engagement on the west coast even though we on the east coast were swamped by a massive winter storm. With thousands of flights cancelled including mine, I came to the place of acknowledging that I was not going to make the event. In my disappointment, I prayed about it and received God’s peace.
Friend, God is not a good luck charm to bring that little extra blessing to life. He is life. All of the essence of life flows from Him, and His promise always to be present is one that we must discipline ourselves to acknowledge. For all who abide in Christ, there is never a moment that we are separated from all of heaven’s resources funded by the Father’s undying love for His children.
Reading Nehemiah 6 I discover the enemy’s tactics fully exposed. When he sees you in the will of God, he brings on an assault of relentless attempts to distract and intimidate you.
Not to give any more focus to Satan than necessary, I write this post merely for education, in keeping with biblical truth that we are not unaware of the enemy’s schemes.
Nehemiah was in the process of leading Jerusalem’s citizens in the rebuilding of the walls surrounding the city. They were realizing much success. God’s work done God’s way will have His provision.
Tobias and Sanballat were the willing instruments to carry out Satan’s scheme. They solicited a meeting with Nehemiah who wisely saw through the distraction tactic and responded, “I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?” (Nehemiah 6:3).
Expect the enemy to come and distract you from the work of God.
One rebuttal will not be sufficient in withstanding Satan’s goal to distract you. He sent the same message FOUR TIMES to Nehemiah, and all four times Nehemiah restated his focus to carry on the work of completing the wall’s rebuilding. It is no wonder the Scriptures teach us, “… so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then…” (Ephesians 6:13-14).
Be prepared to resist the enemy not just one time, but multiple times.
The unsuccessful attempt to break down Nehemiah’s will through persistent soliciting grew to an all-out intimidation via blatant lying. Nehemiah received a letter stating, “It is reported among the nations- and Geshem says it is true- that you and the Jews are plotting to revolt, and therefore you are building the wall… Now this report will get back to the king…” (Nehemiah 6:6-7).
Nehemiah knew that Sanballat was trying to frighten him and the Jews, to get their eyes off the goal of the finished wall and to place them, instead, upon the unknown future should these lies get the best of them.
If you can’t be distracted, be prepared to hear the enemy voice lies about you.
But Nehemiah prayed, “Now strengthen my hands” (Nehemiah 6:9). Now. That is the prescription when the enemy threatens you with an unknown future. What if the work appointed me doesn’t get finished? What if all that I set out to do fails? In that moment we pray for the now. The future is God’s business. You and I are responsible for the now- to stay in step with the Spirit now is to walk in faithfulness to God’s will for our lives.
When the enemy tries to incite fear over the unknown future, pray for God’s NOW provision.
Do you think the devil relents at this stage of your resistance? Oh, he is not done! Nehemiah found that one who should have rallied with him in the completion of Jerusalem’s wall instead was a hired instigator of Tobiah and Sanballat. Nehemiah visited Shemaiah who gave counsel under the pretense of concern for his leader’s safety. He suggested that Nehemiah and he go to the temple to hide from those who threaten to kill him. Nehemiah responded, “Should a man like me run away? Or should one like me go into the temple to save his life? I will not go” (Nehemiah 6:11)! Nehemiah saw through the counsel as an attempt to discredit him and ruin his reputation as a leader with integrity.
The enemy will use the voice of others close to you to entice you with a compromise of your conviction in order to ruin your reputation.
Again, Nehemiah prayed to God and lifted up the names of those who relentlessly sought to intimidate him.
Dear fellow Christ-follower, are you in the will of God for your life? If so, you are well aware of the distractions and intimidation coming from the enemy’s camp! Our good Father in heaven douses us with needed wisdom for how to withstand the devil’s schemes. Take comfort that you are not experiencing anything uncommon to all who are in the body of Christ and doing His work, and know that your prayers are powerful and effective.
“God, You are a gracious giver.”
Isn’t it truer than any truth? God gives. God demonstrates His love. He always is communicating His nature to us, but we can be distracted by trouble and our needs. We can be stuck in the default mode of complaining.
In an effort to daily discipline my thoughts, I began to journal the things I’m receiving from the Father. These may be tangible, spiritual, relational… In everything I’m recognizing Him as the source. I’m giving Him praise for a life I don’t deserve to live and for the hope that is to come when Jesus returns for His Church.
I’m even hoping that this tactic becomes a conversation hack! So often our exchanges with others are filled with laundry lists of things we do. Nothing wrong with that- I am a goal-oriented person who enjoys checking off the to-do list. But in a renewed sense of identity, I want to focus on the truth that I’m called to be a good receiver.
He gives; I receive. Everything.
So, the next time someone asks, “What have you been up to?” (I’m always at a loss at how to respond- all that I do is unto the Lord), I believe I’ll be more prepared to say, “Currently, I’m practicing my receiving, and this is what my good Father in heaven has given to me today…!”
Benefits of daily disciplining the thoughts to what is being received from the Father:
- He loves to be acknowledged
- Overflow of thankfulness
- Override of the complaining default mode
- Praise is a weapon
- Mindful of His nature
- Continual inheritance of spiritual truths
- Development of a healthy dependency
- Growth of expectation in His goodness
- Influence others to think on and speak about God’s goodness
On this beautiful spring day, I wrote the following entry:
Father, today I’m receiving from you the beauty of nature in bloom, the sweet song of birds, and the constant presence of my pup. In everything You are communicating Your faithfulness to me.